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Can Google boost Android Wear with new Nexus-branded, AI-powered smartwatches?
Despite early excitement, Android Wear devices have not sold well to date.
According to Android Police, Google is coming out with two new smartwatches. The site says they may carry the Nexus brand and that one will be “larger, sportier” and the other will be smaller and less feature-rich.
In addition to these being the first “in-house” Android Wear devices, they will reportedly be equipped with “the Google Assistant”:
Both watches will offer Google Assistant integration with contextual alerts. Exactly what that integration entails, we aren’t certain, but given Sundar Pichai’s comments about Nexus devices receiving more exclusive software features, we’re left wondering if these watches will get functionality other Android Wear devices won’t.
Google Assistant is what Google is now calling the brain behind search. The aspiration is to make search more “conversational” and build on historical knowledge for better answers and task completion. The “assistant” is the underlying intelligence behind products like Home, announced at the company’s recent developer event.
The Android Police post is mostly occupied with speculated features and dimensions of the two smartwatches. There were no specific release dates or pricing in the post.
Assuming the report is accurate, I suspect what users will experience is incremental improvements over current Google voice search, with more useful location-based and other notifications. Google may also integrate some differentiating software or other capabilities into the new watches, as the quote above suggests.
According to various reports, Apple Watches have sold relatively well, but Android Wear devices have lagged badly. Google may be seeking to reinvigorate demand and OEM interest by developing two advanced devices for direct sale, as it did previously with small Nexus tablets and smartphones.